Ami Sheth [Interview]

Photo by Vick Krishna

 

Today we have an exciting interview for you fine folks with a full fledged star on the rise! Ami Sheth is a brilliant actress who you can currently see as a star on the new hit AMC show Dietland that appears to have the internet and the world captivated. Based on the novel by Sarai Walker that explores the beauty industry and society’s obsession with weight loss, it is shaping up to be one of the finest programs on television right now. And so much of the show’s success is owed to the brilliant Sheth for her dynamite performance as a burn survivor and bad ass feminist to gives power to her character with her brilliant set of acting chops.

While Dietland may be putting Sheth in front of a whole new level of viewers, please don’t get it twisted about this woman’s talent! Ami has made memorable appearances on such fine programs as The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Elementary, and Blindspot. As well as a brilliant supporting role in Jorge Valdes-Iga’s 2009 art house thriller Hotel Chelsea. She is an extremely talented performer who is destined to be a household name. She has put in the work, and the payoff seems inevitable.

And we are so excited that she was willing to be featured here today! So Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Ami Sheth!

When did you first realize that you wanted to join the world of acting? Has it always been your ambition to perform?

Acting started out as a creative release and a passion for me. It has always brought me so much joy! I didn’t ever think I could make a living at it.

Growing up I never saw anyone who looked like me on TV or in movies. It has changed so much and it’s amazing to see the progress diversity has made on screen. Being able to do what you love is the greatest gift.

What was your very first gig in the world of acting that you can remember working on? And did that experience happen to help shape the way you work today?

My first real acting gig was a TV pilot I did for Animal Planet. I am a licensed Veterinarian and played a Vet on the show. It was the first time I thought that I could actually get acting work and shortly after signed with my agency Innovative Artists .

If you were given the chance to perform any notable figure in world history, alive or dead, who would it be? 

I don’t have a specific role in mind but I am always drawn to roles that are unlike myself or that I haven’t played before. I want to be challenged and pushed with each character I take on. Maybe an international spy or a queen .

I understand that you will be appearing in the latest drama on AMC known as Dietland. What can you tell us about it? What will we be seeing you doing on the program?

I play the role of Sana, a burn survivor, artist and member of the feminist collective called Calliope House. The house serves as a place for women to explore who they are and learn how they can make the world a better place for others. Throughout the season Sana uses her art as her outlet to deal with her facial scars and helps Plum (Joy Nash) through her journey of self acceptance.

Ami Sheth as Sana – Dietland _ Season 1, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/AMC

What was it that initially drew you to a project like Dietland? What did you find most intriguing about the show?

Dietland is based on the modern feminist novel by Sarai Walker of the same name. It’s all about woman power! All our directors have been female and our leads are female (Julianna Margulies and Joy Nash. ) The show is groundbreaking in so many ways and I am honored to be a part of it.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything else you would like to plug to our readers?

Nothing I can share! But stay tuned to Dietland because the show takes some crazy twists and turns that will leave you speechless

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My 2 year old daughter , Lilah. I can’t help but smile every time I look at her.

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Oley Sassone [Interview]


I first came to learn about filmmaker Oley Sassone from a very informative documentary that was somewhat about a guy who has been the creative force behind some pretty amazing work….but apparently did something extremely shady, and pretty upsetting. That man was the great Roger Corman. And while I cannot say that I condone his actions showcased in Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to continue to watch Corman classics on the regular. And as a matter of fact, it was because of him that I learned about the genius that is Oley Sassone!

Oley is another prime example of a man who has created some amazing art in his career, and also happened to turn out to be an incredibly nice person, who gave us some wonderful and lengthy answers to a few of our questions. This is a guy who has brought us some pretty amazing work in a career that is as expansive as it is impressive. When I learned that he directed the amazing video for Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings”. Hailing from the finest city that America has to offer, New Orleans of course, he is also a legend in the NOLA film community that we have managed to cover quite extensively over the years. Mostly because they are some of the nicest people working in film today!

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Oley Sassone!

When did you decide you wanted to join the world of filmmaking? Was it an early passion, or did you just find yourself in this world?

It was shortly after I saw the Beatles movie, A Hard Day’s Night. I was already playing guitar and of course, I wanted to be a rock star, but the movie itself was something I couldn’t stop thinking about. So I went to see it a second time and I was hooked. There was something about the quality of the film in the way it captured not only what the Beatles were all about, their characters, mannerisms, personalties and their music, but it transported me to London and the atmosphere of it all and captured the style and time of what was happening in 1960’s English pop culture. And of course, I was influenced by the girls hysterically screaming at a movie screen! I started talking with a bloody English accent at 12 years old! I was then eager to watch every English black & white film I could find. At that time there was no VHS, DVD or YOU TUBE. There was however a really cool art house theater, The Prytania Theater that is still here in New Orleans that showed a lot of those films, including French and Italian New Wave. And the Public Broadcasting Station started showing the British “Kitchen Sink” dramas, a different one every Saturday morning.Look Back In Anger was the first that is credited for starting this genre, but it was, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Billy Liar, and The Leather Boys  that I loved.

I would sit in front of the TV and transport myself into those worlds hanging on every line of dialogue, street scene, bar scene, the grubby apartments. These films dominated the way I started thinking and I started imagining, what it would it be like to do this… make movies like these. My parents didn’t hesitate when I asked them to buy me a Super 8 movie camera and projector. Of course the films that I shot certainly don’t compare, but I did shoot some black and white Super 8 film, which was not easy to find or get processed. That’s how it started. 

What as the very first gig you can remember getting in this business? And did that experience help shape you into the filmmaker you would eventually become? 

My first gig in the film business was working as a Production Assistant on a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, My Name is Nobody, that was partially filmed in New Orleans. I walked onto a set on a street in the French Quarter and asked some guy for a job and he handed me a shovel and told me to start spreading dirt in the street! I nearly turned and walked until I discovered it was for a gunfight scene with Henry Fonda. So I proudly spread dirt. Good thing I hung around. I was asked to come back the next day and they assigned me to be Fonda’s assistant. That was cool. I brought Henry Fonda water and tea, carried his saddle for resetting a shot, carried his chair… and I loved it! I was always right on the edge of the set when they were shooting scenes with him, including the gun fight on Royal Street. The whole experience of watching a film being made on this level definitely shaped who I was to become as a filmmaker. Another thing that happened that was important to figuring out how to shoot film. I was sent to get something (I can’t remember what) out of Sergio Leone’s trailer for him and when I went in, there were comic books tossed all over the place, opened to certain pages, marked and scribbled on. After watching Leone films, I realized that he was inspired by the dramatic comic book images within those frames, extreme angles and such. That was a real revelation for me. I thought, this doesn’t have to be a difficult process. It tore away the unknown for me. I realized how to approach filmmaking — create interesting images within that frame! I had a 35MM Pentax, a good compliment of lenses and some old fresnel studio lights and I started lighting people, my girlfriend at the time, and I got into George Hurrell – the master of Hollywood glamour photos – different angles, extreme contrast lighting, black and white, color slides, creating little scenes with set dressing. I created a rear screen projection with this roll of opaque material hanging off a c-stand in my dining room, with the slide projector set up in the kitchen to get the depth, with scenes of the interiors of European churches and putting my girl friend in front it and matching the lighting and manipulating the exposure so the rear screen image would really “pop”. It was a great time, a great learning experience. 

You have worn several different proverbial hats in the film business. From writing and directing, to producing and cinematography and beyond. With that being said, what would you say is the gig that you enjoy doing the most? 

The question is not “Why?”, but — Why not!? It really comes down to making a living. Staying in the business I love until I’m ready to quit. I took the jobs as they came, however, I always wanted to write and direct my own films. And I did a couple, but they were never to the level of what I had hoped for. They were good films, good entertainment, but not groundbreaking. I always liked cinematography and shot and directed at least 50 of the 100 music videos I did, along with a lot of commercials, but when it came to film, I was hired as a director and that was that. And I was happy to do it. Figuring out how to make a movie and then see it actually take shape in an editing room was and still is a thrill. Then came the opportunity to write and direct. To labor through the writing process, sell the script and then get to direct it…nothing better. But the extra pressure is on too, it’s all on you! Producing now gives me an opportunity to work with other talented filmmakers and get involved with projects that would not come my way as a director. I enjoy the process of producing, not raising money although absolutely necessary, but getting a film into production, sold and distributed. Producing has been an eye-opener and has really made me appreciate the fact that we are in the FILM BUSINESS.

You kicked off your career working in the world of music video direction, showcasing artists like Styx and Eric Clapton (as well as a personal favorite, Mr. Mister). The music video was a relatively new concept back then, so what was it like jumping into this new scene? It seems like it would be quite the wild ride. Is this the case? 

Freedom to create! That was the best thing about doing music videos. When I started, I think MTV was on the air for only a year and its popularity shot off like a rocket. There were no music video execs at the record companies yet. In fact, I remember a guy who came to set who was doing album cover art. It was a wild ride. I started in New Orleans where I produced, directed and shot a video for friends of mine that were signed to CBS Records — The Red Rockers. I knew them from my days of playing in a punk/rock band. CBS refused to give me any money and the band was going up to NY to shoot. I convinced CBS that I could deliver a video within the month. They said go ahead, but still no money. I thought, “Oh shit.” So I pulled it together with a credit card and a loan from a guy who owned a record store and we shot it. The song is called, “China” and the exec jumped on a plane to see a cut of it, mind you this is 16mm film, she saw it, loved it, bought it. CBS started sending me all over the country to shoot videos for their artists and I ended up in L.A. doing a video for The Romantics. A good friend of mine who was an advertising copywriter and who gave me my first commercial, had connections at a production company in L.A. who sent a rep to the set.

The rep sat quietly and watched, handed me his card and asked me to meet with them before I left town. They offered me a job, paid my moving expenses and put me on a retainer. Being in L.A. in the mid 80’s in the midst of this exploding art form of music and film was really exciting and energizing. It created a shift in attitudes at the studios in what eventually became a stepping stone for a new generation of filmmakers such as David Fincher and Michael Bay, both of whom launched their film careers from music videos.

At the height of my career as video director, I was doing about four videos a month and in various cities around the world. Eric Clapton in London, Bruce Hornsby in Austin, Gloria Estefan in Chicago; we would go wherever the artists had their longest break on their tour. I would have to say Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” was one of my best, but the thing about doing videos is, you need great songs to make a good video and that was an exceptionally good song. And the trip continues thanks to YOUTUBE. I can watch nearly every video I directed, including my very first one, “China” by The Red Rockers. What a trip.

For those who may be out of the loop on the scandal of your 1994 film adaptation of The Fantastic Four, would you care to give a brief synopsis of what exactly went down. And with that, how accurate was Marty Langford’s Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four? 

A “scandal”, I like that, but how about scandalous and a huge deception pulled on me, the cast and crew. I was hired by Roger Corman to direct the movie after I had directed two good movies for him. I knew there was no money, but it was The Fantastic Four and I was a Marvel comic fan as a kid, so I jumped in. We all thought as we busted our asses, that we were making a film to be released and hopefully make enough money to convince the powers that be to hire us to do bigger and better films. That’s how it’s supposed to work! But that wasn’t their plan. It was all a ruse for Constantin Film to keep the film rights to the F4 franchise. It was strictly a contractual obligation for a film to be made before the end of that year or Constantin would relinquish the rights. So we finished the film in spite of the fact that no one seemed to be in any hurry to complete it. But once the film was finished, Roger thought it was good enough to release, so he decided to do just that. Marvel had a fit and apparently it was not in any contract that barred Roger from releasing it. So they paid him again, NOT to release the film. They confiscated the negative and the one print of the film and rumor has it that it was burned! Thankfully some guy at a dubbing house in L.A. bootlegged it and the entire film can be seen on You Tube. The only regret about that is, it’s a copy of VHS, to VHS, to VHS. We never got the opportunity of giving the film a good telecine — where the negative is transferred to video. All the gruesome details can be seen in the exceptional documentary which is a very accurate account of the ugly side of Hollywood.

We have managed to go pretty in depth with several folks involved in the NOLA film scene. I understand that you have origins in the area, and have worked extensively in the film community. So with that, in your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is about this film scene that sets it apart from other largely known markets? 

As you have gathered, I’m from New Orleans. As much as I love the city and its people, it’s the Louisiana State Tax Credits that has brought the industry here. However, the local film community has exploded, resulting in a great infrastructure of sound stages, equipment companies and damn good film crews. The one thing I believe that sets the film scene here apart from other markets is the city itself. Who doesn’t want to come to New Orleans? As I have mentioned, I have worked in wonderful cities around the world and have had great experiences, but New Orleans is truly a unique place to visit and to work. And the place looks great on film! Look at Elia Kazan’s Panic in the Street, shot entirely on location in New Orleans in 1950 or Alan Parker’s Angel Heart. These locations, the streets, the buildings are all still here.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers? 

As I mentioned, being a producer has opened a lot of doors. I’m working with a number of other producers and filmmakers on multiple projects. One to be shot in Scotland and the U.S., another in London and Paris and of course a couple to be shot in New Orleans. One is called, Butterfly in the Typewriter, a biopic about the author John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the iconic book, A Confederacy of Dunces and a limited series on the young life of Louis Armstrong. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

I have to say unabashedly, every morning when I wake up and kiss my wife. Second to that, is hitting a great chord or a guitar lick on stage with the punk/rock band, Sexdog, that regrouped in the last few years and has been playing gigs here in New Orleans.

And because we love it so much, check out this amazing video for Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” directed by Oley Sassone:

New Music Tuesday: Ezra Bell – Ezra Bell [Album]

 

Regular readers of Trainwreck’d Society may notice that we have been a bit too far out of the music coverage game, but lately we have been trying to work our way back into the scene. Maybe stop ignoring the plethora of press releases that pass through the old inbox. Maybe wise up and listen. Maybe get that old feeling of joy that music used to give yours truly? But the chaos of the world has somewhat diminished this possibility and my ability to focus on just about anything has weakened.

But, sometimes, just sometimes….I hear something. Something special. Something that brings me back. And that something this go around is the amazingly original and extremely entertaining group I have recently learned is named Ezra Bell. And god dammit, if Ezra Bell isn’t throwing me back to the days when I would watch my favorite indie folk acts perform share a cramped stage with a pinball machine at a vegan burrito joint in the Northwest. While I would never wish to be 25 again, I am so happy to feel even a small bit of that ecstasy that music once made me feel, as I am now old and bitter and alone in an empty room in Nowhere, Poland.

Yes, Ezra Bell is everything I used to love to listen to when I cared. And hearing the sweet and sort of funky jams that these delightful hipsters are giving me has made me wonder why I ever stopped caring. The elements are varied, the swagger is evident, and the storytelling is as strong as you could ever imagine. And some if it has to be pretty damn catchy, as I just caught myself tapping on “Tourists” on this press page for what may be my 7th listen in a row. Much ike certain citizens of Utah we all know and love, I would never outright say that “Tourists” is my favorite wife on this album, but deep down I know it to be true. But dammit, then I move on down the track list and the cycle just continues. It is as though I can smell the PBR induced sweat that I can only imagine would be very evident at an Ezra Bell show, and it really does bring me back home.

While I may have confessed my love for one singular track thus far, it behooves me to let you fine readers know that “Go with God” is slowly creeping up into my psyche and trying to steal my love away. And I can think of no better way to describe Ezra Bell themselves actually. They are out to steal your love, with their incredible talents, perfect musicianship, and a staggering ability to make you forget about the chaos of the world, and remember a time when we weren’t afraid to die. Yeah, I think that will do it.

 

Ezra Bell’s self titled debut full-length album is available now on Spotify, Apple Music, all of those places you go to get music. So go get it.

 

Check out this recorded performance of “Tourists” courtesy of Killingsworth House:

Ford Austin [Interview]



Ford Austin is a man that I have been becoming more and more familiar with over the last few years. His name just always seem to show during long nights of research and traveling down that the worm hole that IMDb can sometimes be. And over some time, I have realized that I have actually been enjoying his work for quite some time. Scrolling through everything he has done in his career, it is absolutely mind-blowing to say the least. He is without a doubt one of the hardest working folks in the film world today.

Whether he is acting, producing, writing, directing….or all of the above, For Austin is a guy who has an extremely impressive versatility and work ethic that goes unrivaled. And as we will learn in the interview below, he is also a very kind person who is willing to step in and help a friend when in need, as he did for a dear old friend of ours here at Trainwreck’d Society!

And even beyond just some amazing words, he has shared some amazing photographs and stills, some of which you can check out beyond the text. So without further rambling, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant artist, Ford Austin!

What inspired you to get into the worlds of performance and filmmaking? Was it a passion you developed at an early age?

As for acting, my parents put me in a movie they produced when I was 1 or 2 years old. I stole the entire movie as you can imagine.

After that, they put me in a talent service for child actors that got us involved in supporting roles in shows and commercials.  Later on, I decided to make it my career and went to college and grad school for theatre film, tv production and acting.  That got me heavily involved in New York theatre.  About that time I got the idea I could write and direct movies. So, I relocated to Hollywood and taught myself filmmaking.  I arrived just in time to start shootings the last of the movies made on actual film.  My friends and I saw the writing in the wall and bought digital film cameras.  In 1999 I became one of the first digital filmmakers in the business while all the big players bragged about how they would never shoot on video and that you weren’t a real filmmaker if you didn’t shoot in film.  Boy, we’re they wrong. Lightning struck and my friends and I became the lightning rods for the biggest Hollywood revolution since sound.  I got my movies made faster and was able to shoot 10 features a year from 2001 till today. After making over 100 features and more shorts than I can count, film Is dead and I still make movies. Ha!

In 2011, you starred and produced with our dear friend Rena Riffel the hit sequel Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven. How did you manage to become involved with this project? And what drew you to working on the film?

Ah, Rena!  I think it was 2009. I got a call from my friend Rena Riffell telling me she needed help getting her movie done. I told her, “Sure.  Where are you?” She told me she was in a park in the Hollywood hills.  As I was driving over Laurel Canyon in West Hollywood and looked out to the park on Mulholland drive, I saw Rena sweating heavily and exasperated as hell in a parking lot with a single person camera crew at her side. I knew right then and there she couldn’t get the sequel done without my help and probably about 10 or 12 other people too. She asked me to play one of her lead characters in the movie while I produce.  How could I turn down such a gorgeous Hollywood starlet?  Showgirls 2 took us about three months to shoot and we also had a great producing partner Josh Eisenstadt join us.  Together, the three of us turned the potential disaster into s beautifully odd feature film which caught the adoration of Mr. David Lynch himself.  To this day, I will always love Rena Riffell for getting me involved in her project.

You’ve worn a whole lot of metaphorical hats in the world of film. From writing, directing, producing, acting, and beyond….you’ve done it all! So in your obvious expert opinion, what would you say is your favorite profession in this business?

Out of everything I do in the business, I would say the easiest is producing. All it takes is an iPhone.  For my soul, I love acting the best.  It’s where it all began for me. Everything else was born out of my desire to act in movies.  I taught myself to do all the jobs so I could set the stage for myself and my friends.

The ego in me loves directing most of all. When I direct, I have the final say on everything. Who gets which credit, whose lines stay in the movie, what the tone of the film is or even what time of day we have to start work.

Ford Austin & Francis Ford Coppola

 

You’ve been in the game for quite some time, and have put out some legendary work. With all of the technological advances and changes in the way the common person takes in media, I am curious to know your opinion on whether or not we are more fortunate to receive more content? Or has everything become so oversaturated that quality has become lost?

Gaining more content options is always a good thing.  When I started making movies, it was VHS & DVDs at Blockbuster and Best Buy.  The internet wasn’t streaming yet.  Even from pm festivals hadn’t grown up to what they are today until just 10 years ago.

I had one of the first movies on Netflix in 2005. My horror feature The Curse of Lizzie Borden.  Loved it!  While I was directing on set one day, I turned to my producer who was a real veteran in Hollywood and said, “Le s district hire this on Netflix.”  “What’s Netflix?” He scoffed.   We soon learned that Netflix would not be a great return for indie films since you basically get $.05 per view.  Ridiculous.  But your ego says “Hey!  I’m on Netflix bitch!”

I mean, when I started, iPhones didn’t exist:  now I’m watching feature films on my iPhone X.  It’s freaking perfect!

Ford Austin & his friend and mentor, Martin Landau

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I have three new feature films coming out this year: Heels, Inhumanity, and What’s Buried in the Backyard?  I star as an actor in each one of them. And these are my first movies I have made since being mentored by the legendary actor Martin Landau at The Actors Studio.  I am very excited to see how fans and audiences alike take to my new acting skills.

Also, I  planning my return to directing soon.  I haven’t directed a feature since Dahmer Vs Gacy in 2010 which came out in 2012.  I have three great projects I’m planning in the Midwest where I think I will focus my stories and production for the next ten years.  Yeehaw!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The new digital series Cobra Kai.  I’m episode 3 or 4, Johnny paints a dick on Daniel Larusso’s face on his billboard.  While Daniel is bitching about it to his wife, he says, “now what’ll I do?” She replies, “you’ll blow the competition away!”

That’s funny.

Check out this wonderful gallery of stills of performances that Ford Austin has been so kind to share with you all:

Ford Austin in the Netflix pilot “Scorpion Girl”

 

Ford Austin in “Inhumanity”

 

Ford Austin in “Dahmer vs. Gacy”

 

Ford Austin in “Pastis”

 

Sunday Matinee: The Lighthouse [Film]

“A dark and disquieting journey into the heart of madness” (Starburst), the film, inspired by a terrifying true story, tells of two men trapped in an isolated lighthouse, surrounded by the deadly Irish sea, with both their minds ultimately pushed to the limits.”

 

I believe it has happened folks! I may have very well seen the best film of 2018 thus far. Only half way through the year, and I have already become smitten and awestruck by this gem of a film entitled The Lighthouse. For a film that literally only has one location, and two men doing 99% of the acting, it absolutely blows my mind how insanely full of life this film is. The concept of isolation turned to absolute madness may very well be one of the most frightening concepts imaginable, and it has never been better portrayed than it has in this absolutely brilliant film from the eye of filmmaker Chris Crow.

Obvious nods have to go to the two (and basically only) stars of the film, Michael Jibson and Mark Lewis Jones. It is a rare thing to see the evolution of a relationship move from distant, to hopeful, to absolute madness in a perfectly timed hour and half. Jibson especially handles the absolute madness with the precision of an absolute professional and man of obvious and immense talent.

I have to admit that I find it almost impossible to truly get lost in a film these days, as the distractions of the world tend to intervene and make me fall out of a story. This absolutely was not the case in viewing The Lighthouse. The world could have stricken down everyone around me, and I would have had no idea when I was watching this amazing film. It was damn intriguing, and impossible to look away from. I honestly can not remember the last time I felt this way watching a film. It may have been as recently as last year, but it certainly didn’t have the impact that this one has had on me. Go see this damn movie folks, however you are able to. You are not going to regret losing yourself in this cinematic masterpiece.

The Lighthouse opens in select theaters July 6 and VOD July 10.

 

 

Guinevere Turner [Interview]

Today’s interview is about 5 years in the making, folks! Actually, it might be more reasonable to say about 20 years in the making. I first new about Guinevere Turner when I was just a young teenage lad who was obsessed with independent films in the 90’s and was DEFINITELY going to go to film school. I studied the works of Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, and more during these internet free days, in the hopes of discovering more of these indie gems. And I found one in Turner. Her 1994 film Go Fish is still hands down one of the finest films to come from this period, and one of the finest period.

And in the decades to follow, Guinevere has proven herself to be one of the best in the game. Whether she is on screen, behind the camera, or penning the next great screen story, she is a mesmerizing figure in the world of cinema and beyond. I learned in this interview that it took 6 attempts to get the now classic 2000 film American Psycho a workable adaptation, and I dare say that the landing was perfectly stuck with Turner and her reoccurring working partner Mary Holland penning this amazing story.

I had reached out to Turner about 5 years ago to have the honor of having her on the site, but schedules conflicted and it just hadn’t happened. But, being the persistent and adoring fan that I am first, I never wanted to give up. And it almost seems fateful that we were able to talk to her now, after quite a bit has “changed” in the world of women in the film world. I parenthesis change because, I’m not certain that real change has occurred, and that more needs to be done. But nevertheless, I have known since my youth that Guinevere Turner was a strong woman working in the man’s world that is filmmaking. Although, I never though of her work in such a way, as I believe I was simply ignorant to the facts and entirely unaware of what was happening. But, what I do know is that Guinevere Turner was and is an amazingly talented individual who has been empowering and showcasing women in film for the last three decades. It’s not new to her. This is and has been what she does. And she does it damn well.

So after all this time, I finally got to get some words from the amazing Guinevere Turner. We discuss a lot of the things I’ve already mentioned, but obviously far more eloquently and in depth than I can really explain. We are so proud and fortunate to have this amazing filmmaker with us today, in an interview that will always be a highlight not only in the TWS world, but in my own as well.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Guinevere Turner!

When did you first realize that you had a passion for the world of film, both behind and in front of the camera? Did it come from an early age, or did you just sort of find yourself in this world one day?

I’ve always loved film – grew up watching a lot of old movies from the 40’s and 50’s and fell in love with soft focus close ups of divas like Bette Davis and Lauren Bacall. But I didn’t think I would make films, I just wanted to be a movie star. When we made my first film Go Fish, it was out of a need for representation rather than an urge to make film (or to act).  I just recognized it as a medium people pay attention to. And then… I was off and running in a world I never thought I’d be in. I thought I was going to write novels! (I still will, just you wait.)

Your project with frequent collaborator and fellow genius of the cinema, Mary Harron, American Psycho, is absolutely one of my all time favorite films of all time. It has been 18 years since the film was released, and it is absolutely insane how relevant it remains to this very day. When you were working on adapting Bret Easton Ellis’s novel for the screen, what would you say was your biggest concern? What did you feel you absolutely needed to accomplish to turn this story into a visual medium?

Mary and I were the 6th writers to tackle the adaptation of the book and as such we felt immense pressure to be the ones who got it right. Our concerns/challenges were that the book is so internal, and he doesn’t ever really tell anyone what’s going on in his head. We fought against the use of voice over for a while, and then gave in (I think it works!), and we loved the music chapters in the book but couldn’t figure out how to get them into the movie. (In the book they function more as straight music reviews and are devoid of any plot). It was a good day when we figured out that we’d have him start to go on a tear about a particular record when he was in a killing mood. By the time you get to the scene where he kills my character (Whitney Houston is his subject), you should be thinking “OH shit, they are going to die.”

Guinevere Turner & Mary Holland on the set of Charlie Says…coming soon!

Regular readers here at TWS know that we are obsessed with the world that filmmaker Kevin Smith has created, known as the View Askewinverse. And true fans know that you have had a MAJOR influence on the that world. For those who are un aware, can you tell us about your involvement in such works like Chasing Amy and Dogma? How did this come about?

I met Kevin and his producer Scott Mosier at Sundance in 1994 – they were there with Clerks and I was there with Go Fish. We had the same film rep, John Pierson, and we had weirdly similar movies – black and white super talky movies with their own little universe. We became fast friends and Kevin being Kevin he asked a lot of bold and direct questions about lesbians. Rumor has it that Scott had a crush on me and Kevin thought that would make a great movie. I read his first draft of Chasing Amy and I laughed but I said Oh Boy lesbians are going to hate this. I was wrong! Chasing Amy was a hit with lesbians and non-lesbians a like, and Dogma was his next up so he put me in it. That was when Matt and Ben had just skyrocketed to fame – it was a trip to see hordes of screaming fans behind barriers on the set.

Throughout your extremely impressive career, you have manage to wear a plethora of proverbial hats in the world of film and television. So, in your personal opinion, what do you find to be your favorite duty in your chosen profession?

Well here’s the thing: I’m best at writing (so far). It’s the thing I am most confident about my abilities in. So that comes naturally, and I don’t get nervous. But I do get bored with the solitary life, and so its great that I get to act now and then. I am less confident about my acting, and I do get nervous (though less so as I get older), but I love it, and I love being on sets, and learning from other actors, and just being challenged in that way in general. As for directing, I am learning! The intensity and pressure of it I also adore. It’s exciting, energizing, high stakes in the sense that you have to keep making decisions and problem solving non stop. I live for that shit!

There has been a lot of focus on women in the world of filmmaking, with a push to get more women behind the camera, in writing rooms, etc. And for an outsider looking in, I really have no way of knowing if the movement has been working, or are the main predatory like players in the game just lying low for the moment and putting out a feel good story in the news every once in a while? I’ve honestly been wondering what your take on the entire situation has been since things really got kicked into gear?

“Judge” Guinevere Turner on the set of Charlie Says, setting up shop in the Judge’s Chambers.

It’s intense! I mean I am so happy that people are coming forward, that consequences are being felt, that women like Ava Duvernay are giving all kinds of women a chance, that Asia Argento is not afraid to talk openly at Cannes about being raped. I can’t say that “happy” is the right word. There are a lot of painful truths coming out, and things that can’t be undone, lives that can’t be un-ruined. As much as its a good moment for women, it can be exhaustingly sad to witness on a daily basis. Especially knowing that this avalanche means there is so much more. (I always knew that.) Its funny to me when people say about me and Mary “Oh its a really smart move for you two to be making [Charlie Says] right now. A woman writer and a woman director, a story about women…” and I’m thinking “WTF?! We’ve always been women making stories about women or relevant to women – this isn’t some strategic move. Listen to this:  we actually care.”

When you look back on your brilliant career in both independent and mainstream cinema and television, what would you say you are most proud of? What would you want people to look back and think about your body of work, say, 100 years from now?

Oh shit I don’t know. I’m proud of it all and I’m not even halfway done! This new one, Charlie Says, outta be one for the books! Ask me this again when I’m 80.

I am intrigued by a web series you are currently involved in that sounds very compelling, called “Fuck, Yes”. What can you tell us about this series, and how can our readers find it?

You can watch it, and the other films in the series, here:

http://www.weareo.tv/presents/fckyes

It’s a great little series about consent in a sexual context, and playful and sexy about different scenarios in which we ask for consent, and how we ask. Mine is me with a a much younger girlfriend who has a “sexual bucket list”. Its funny.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

The future holds:  Charlie Says, a film about the women who killed for Charles Manson and their time in prison:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1759744/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Should be done by end of summer.  (I wrote it, Mary Harron directed it)

I wrote a comedic horror script called “Don’t Come Over with me as a romance novelist with writer’s block going nuts in her apartment. We are looking for financing (anyone out there?).

I have several TV show ideas I’d like to see happen – I’m honing those ideas, deciding what I think will work. The plan: create TV show, run TV show, direct on TV show, have cred as more than a short film director, direct features, live happily ever after.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

This morning I was thinking about how I love the word ruminate, and the act of rumination, but that when I learned the word origin, from this, a “ruminant” animal:

“an even-toed ungulate mammal that chews the cud regurgitated from its rumen. The ruminants comprise the cattle, sheep, antelopes, deer, giraffes, and their relatives.”

I felt disappointed because chewing regurgitated cud is just kind of gross. I thought to myself, “Why does this bother me?” and then I thought “I guess it’s because cows aren’t known as sexy thinkers.” This made me laugh out loud for some reason. Yes, I live alone, and this is why – so my uninterrupted thoughts can be free to wander to such places.

Zackary Adler [Interview]


Today’s interview subject is a man who I was quite pleasantly surprised to get to know. I knew of Zackary Adler as the man who brought us the delightful indie gem of a film that I once saw on Netflix and decided quickly that it was amazing. That film was the 2006 indie romcom I’m Reed Fish, starring Jay Baruchel and Alex Bledel and a plethora of other brilliant actors. The film is one of the most endearing works of indie art I have ever seen, and thoroughly enjoyed it to a great extent.

But, who exactly is this Zackary Adler? In just a few minutes of research, you may realize that he has a body of work that will definitely surprise you. While one would expect a catalog with the same sort of sensibilities as the likes of a darling little film like I’m Reed Fish, one would be absolutely and entirely wrong! Adler is a filmmaker who has had a career that defies genres and moves in whatever direction he wants in order to tell a compelling tale! He has made waves in the world of Britain’s crime cinema, with the Ray franchise, and pulls no punches (will, a lot of punches are given, actually) in one of his latest releases, Rise of the Foot Soldier 3: The Pat Tate Story.

Yes, Zackary Adler did not quite turn out to be as we thought he would be. He turned out to be even better! He is a versatile filmmaker with so much to share with the world, and we are so damn fortunate that he was willing to share a few words with us today. So Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to share with you all some amazing words from one of today’s finest filmmakers, the great Zackary Adler!

When did you decide that you wanted to join the world of filmmaking? Was it an early passion that you can always remember having? Or was it a later in life discovery?

Oh it was early.  I was maybe thirteen or fourteen.  I had read a script that a family member had written and it was made into a movie and I remember thinking that the script was much better then the film.  I was so disappointed in the movie and it was a pivotal moment for me.

What was the very first gig you can remember having in the film industry? And did that experience help shape who you would become as a filmmaker? 

My first gig was in Camden town working for a music video company.  It made me want to be a director.  It was a small production company that was doing these amazing videos for Sinead O’Conner and U2 and other great bands.  It was the 90’s so it was really fun and hedonistic.  The director would listen to a song and come up with an idea and then we would all work to actualize it.  I was hooked.  Completely hooked on the process of bringing an idea to life on screen.  And then I fell in love with film as an art and as a medium.  I have never done anything else since really.

Your 2006 film I’m Reed Fish is an absolutely wonderful film that I continue to hold at a very high regard. I’m curious as to what the origins of this tale might have been? And how was it decided for the likes of Jay Baruchel to play the titular character?

Thank you! That’s kind of you to say.  There was a real guy named Reed Fish who wrote it as his life story.  Jay Baruchel had done a lot of TV in Canada and he just had done this brilliant turn with a small role in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby and we met via our agents and I immediately loved him for the role.  He was great in it and has gone on from strength to strength.

You’ve had some great success not only in the world of comedy and drama, but also in the action/thriller genres as well. I’m always curious to ask filmmakers this question: What do you find to be the commonality in when shifting from one genre to the other? In your own work, what would you say every good film should have, regardless of its categorization?

I love all genres of film. For me it is mostly about whether or not it’s a good story told in the right way.  Is it authentic? Is it interesting? Entertaining?  Does it look at something in a new way?  These are the things I ask in my own work and when I am watching and exploring the work of others.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I really don’t know what the future will hold for me.  My twenties were pretty rocky and about ten years ago I made a paradigm shift.  Basically my life had been really crazy and dark and my film work was really light so I decided to flip it… and I did! My life since has been far brighter and my work has been mostly dark and violent.  It’s been brilliant but this last month something happened.  My 9 year old daughter had a heart problem and we spent about a month in hospital. She is totally fine now but she was critical for a while and that experience changed me.  My time with her in the pediatric ICU and the pediatric transplant wing changed me.  The things I saw and heard and felt gave me a new appreciation for courage and love and a newfound awe of our capacity as humans to survive and fight, to meet challenges and to come together.  The old dark to light flip won’t really cut it anymore for me so I need to develop some projects that reflect that creatively.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

Stanley.  Stanley is now how I refer to my wife and my daughter when I am addressing both of them.  As in “I love you Stanley” or “Please be quiet Stanley”.   Stanley always makes me smile…. That and this really fantastic hamster video I saw on Instagram this morning.

Check out this trailer for one of Zackary’s latest films, Rise of the Foot Soldier 3: The Pat Tate Story: